Saturday, January 06, 2007

Updated: Malaysia's Eye of the Storm

Brace for severe storms
Another severe monsoon storm will hit rain-soaked Malaysia. According to The Star, seven northern and east coast states are bracing for thunderstorms and possible floods as strong winds may turn into a cyclone. Severe weather is expected to hit Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang till Monday.

The southern states have already been quite badly hit, as noted in earlier postings.

As Malaysia grapples with the fresh bout of floods in the eastern states, another storm is already brewing in the Malaysian capital. All attention is focused on the upcoming trial of murdered Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu.

(Pix from The Star of Razak Baginda)

The trial has been fixed for March 10 2008* by Shah Alam High Court judge Justice K.N. Segara. Political analyst Abdul Razak Abdullah Baginda, who has been charged with abetment in the murder of Mongolian beauty, was sent back to prison Friday after he failed to get his bail extended.

(Pix from The Star of Altantuya Shaariibuu)

The trial is set to be highly sensational as Razak Baginda is known to be an associate of Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Najib Razak and others in the corridor of power. Razak Baginda is also said to be a middle man in some defence contracts.

The case will be jointly tried with that of two police personnel from the Bukit Aman Special Action Squad -- Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar, who were alleged to have blown up the Mongolian girl with C4 explosives after shooting her.

Many questions may or may not be answered. Was she dead before she was blown to bits? Why didn't they deport her instead of silencing her permanently? Are there bigger forces at work? Why were special force policemen involved? How did they get the plastic explosives? Was she involved in defence-related contracts?

It's unfathomable that such a high-profile trial will only be heard next year. The Malaysian courts must expedite the case despite the backlog of cases due to the enormous public interest in the case. An earlier trial will, hopefully, answer some of the nagging questions and help prevent further speculation that may prejudice the case.

An earlier trial and verdict will hopefully bring closure to the most gruesome murder case in Malaysia and, hopefully, placate the wandering spirit of Altantuya Shaariibuu.

* Earlier posting gave the impression it was 2007. Apologies.

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